Why scale-ups shouldn’t aim for national media coverage

By Sofie Skouras, deputy head of technology PR practice at Aspectus

This piece was originally appeared in Sifted

“Our main goal is to be in The Sunday Times”

“I don’t care about tier two and three publications”

“We want to be in TechCrunch”

For many clients, that is what PR success looks like. They should think again.

It’s true, these titles have strong journalists, a large audience, hard-hitting stories, and plenty of influence; it’s no wonder founders want to see their businesses profiled in them. For me too, there’s nothing quite like landing a national piece of coverage for a client – that feeling never gets old, no matter how many times you’ve done it.

But often it’s the far less sexy trade titles which can have the biggest impact on a business, which in the end is what really matters.

The power of trade publications

Don’t be a media snob: It’s short-sighted to purely focus on national coverage, disregarding anything else. Here’s why:

Reason one: more targeted, more leads

Some entrepreneurs forget the value that many trade publications offer.

There are many publications which specifically target a profession, vertical or group. For instance, Information Age (targeting CIOs, CTOS and IT teams), HR Magazine (targeting HR Directors, HR Managers and Recruiters) or Infosecurity Magazine (targeting CISOs and security professionals).

These titles are particularly useful for a company that is selling to other businesses or a specific profession.

For instance, lots of certified professional groups also publish publications which go out to all members, such as HR organisation CIPD’s People Management; ICAEW Chartered Accountants’ magazine, Economia; and the Members of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Professional Engineering.

I’ve got lots of examples of trade coverage leading to big wins. For instance, a client in the telecoms space had a byline in a construction title that resulted in a multi-million-pound deal. Or a report we launched for a client in the HR technology space, which got national and trade coverage – but it was one HR trade title, in particular, which resulted in 70% of leads, not the nationals.

Another client in the energy space had a bylined article in a utility publication, which resulted in an inbound lead from a major water utility (that probably would have been close to an 8-figure deal).

Reason two: build credibility for the long term

As many marketers and entrepreneurs know, building brand credibility with your audience and media takes time and effort, especially if you’re a new entrant in the market or haven’t invested in marketing previously.

This means unless you’re offering something genuinely ground-breaking – like the first flying car – it’s unlikely a top-tier journalist will know who you are and therefore might not be interested in speaking to you. However, trade titles are a great place in building your credibility (and Google ranking).

Indeed, research by Condé Nast and Tapestry reveals 79% of consumers make brand decisions pre-search – highlighting the importance of brand storytelling over a long period. As Kevin Thompson, joint managing director at Tapestry stated: “It’s imperative that marketers don’t forget the most important part of advertising, telling and supporting the brand story right at the start of the journey – or before the journey even begins.”

Reason three: more opportunities

Getting a national journalist or top tier publication interested in covering your company will take time, as opportunities are few and hard to come by (depending on what sector you operate in). However, a trade journalist who covers your specific niche could be very interested in hearing about your company and issues you’re solving, on an ongoing basis.

By broadening your focus beyond just top tier, you’re also opening up more opportunities for bylined articles, case study stories, podcast interviews and more.

My advice

Entrepreneurs should begin with understanding who your audience is (age, sex, location, what keeps them up at night and what they are interested in) and where your audience is browsing (whether that’s Instagram, medical journals, comparison sites, trade publications or Sky News).

Instead of thinking about where you want to appear, think of your audience. Then create a media plan from there, researching what sort of stories the outlet be interested in or what sort of content you need to create.

Want to find out how PR and marketing can drive tangible business results for your business? Book in an informal chat with me here.

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